How to Make it Snow

Snow on BushThose of you who live in the Northern states don’t understand us.  We all run around like crazy chickens when there’s the least hint of snow in the air. We get excited because it happens so rarely. All the schools and some businesses shut down. Not because they are scared, but because we don’t have the road equipment to clear the roads like the Northern states do.

Kids pray for snow. All kids, even the children of atheists, pray for snow. It’s a chance to get out of school, but it’s also a chance to see some of the white stuff, which we see here in the Upstate about once every three years. Kids at our local elementary school have a sure-fire method to bring on the white stuff. A friend posted this morning that his son had

put 6 white crayons in the freezer and just flushed 3 ice cubes down the toilet. Earlier today he did a “snow dance” at school. He’s now “flipping the silverware.” Tonight he plans to wear his pajamas inside out. If all performed correctly, we will have another snow day tomorrow.

At work, where we do a lot of statistical analysis, one of my colleagues asked me if my children wore their pajamas on inside-out last night, and I told her they did not. Therefore, it’s proven. Since my kids didn’t do the magical snow-bringing steps, we got no snow. That’s what we refer to in the statistics field as direct causation.

I have another friend who claims that if the weather-vane above the church in her hometown is pointing a certain direction, and the precipitation is moving in, and it’s cold enough, there will be snow. Again, these are statistically proven.

Snow on GroundWe’ve got a little on the ground. It’s not enough to do anything with, but the kids are outside dancing under the snowflakes.I promised my daughter hot chocolate when she comes in.

I’ve got to run out and get my bread and milk.

TV Shows I’ve Abandoned-Mike and Molly

I want to tell Mike and Molly, “It’s not you it’s me.” But really, it’s them. we just canceled our DVR subscription. It was too painful.

Mike and Molly

Mike and Molly

Mike and Molly — I really really wanted to like this show. We watched it for three years with few complaints.  I think that Molly (Melissa McCarthy) and Mike (Billy Gardell) are both extremely talented. But I’m tired. The show went out on a limb with two overweight characters, and if I recall, the original plan was to show that heavy people are people too. Now we’ve devolved into a lot of Melissa McCarthy doing slapstick, and Billy Gardell being the lovable straight guy who puts up with his wife’s antics. She’s good, but she’s not Lucille Ball good. If that’s all the show is, it falls flat.

Last year they were starting to develop some of the secondary characters, but apparently the producers felt that their main star wasn’t getting enough camera time, because this season has been all about Molly getting into trouble. We’ve gone from slightly skewed realism to over-the-top farce. Who climbs out of a window to quit their job?

That’s the major reason, but there are some minor irritations that should be pointed out. Two people that large would not be sharing a regular sized bed, or even a queen-sized. My husband and I won’t even sleep in a queen bed on vacation.  I know they wanted some comedy around her mother and sister, but move out already. And we had a brief attempt to move into the basement, but now we’re back upstairs for no apparent reason. Her quitting her job when they wanted to have  a baby and they are always referring to how much credit card debt they have was ridiculous. Molly is quickly becoming a TSTL heroine: too stupid to live.

Final Verdict: If we come across the show we may watch it, but once a show loses its season pass at our house, it’s quickly forgotten.

100,000 Miles and Counting

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Pardon the blurry picture. I was sitting at a red light and tried my best to get a good shot with my phone. My car just turned over 100,000.  I’m pretty excited. My little navy 2008 Honda Civic is plugging along.

It doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles like automatic anything, or Sirius radio, but it’s a good little car that I drive 40 miles  a day. My little baby gets 30 miles a gallon, which is important if you drive as much as I do.

We’re hoping I can drive it for three more years and then we’ll give it to my son who is (gasp) 12.

Of course, if it starts giving us a lot of mechanical trouble we’ll trade it, but for now, I’m happy not to have a car payment. Ride on!!!

(I gave a little tribute to my car in No Strings Attached. Laura drives a Civic, but hers is red.)

So what about you? Do you hold onto your cars until they start giving you mechanical trouble or do you trade every three years?

Author Spotlight: Katherine Logan, Author of The Last MacKlenna

Today I’d like you to meet Katherine Logan and her character, Meredith Montgomery. Meredith is the President of Montgomery Winery in Napa, California. I love Katherine’s books, and this is a great opportunity to get to know Meredith better. So pour you a glass of scotch, or a fine chardonnay, and have a seat.

(This post originally appeared on the Girl Who Reads Blog – Katherine offered to share it here as well)

Welcome Meredith. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and the part you play in the contemporary romance The Last MacKlenna, which is available at Amazon,

image001When Katherine told me she wanted to include me in her story, I said no thank you. Although I do live in a glass house, I’m a very private person. From a very young age, my father told me that everything I did reflected on the family winery. I had to excel in the classroom, score the most goals, and run the fastest. I had to be the best. And when I dressed up for functions at the winery, I was expected to look glamorous and hold my own in conversations with vintners, politicians, and movie stars.

I bet that was a lot of pressure. How did you handle it at such a young age?

As a teenager, I rebelled and showed up at a cocktail party in ripped jeans and a t-shirt. I wasn’t rude to anyone, but I didn’t go out of my way to be pleasant either. My father didn’t say anything, and he didn’t punish me. He didn’t have to because the winery employees I had known all my life showed their disappointment in a myriad of ways. They left the room when I walked in. They didn’t invite me to join them for lunch. They ignored my birthday. Needless to say, I toed the line from that point on.

What about your mother. Were you close to her?

She died when I was born. I was an only child and didn’t have any aunts or grandparents. The closest to a mother figure in my life was dad’s secretary. We were close enough that I could ask her questions that young girls ask their mothers.

Tell us about your education. I assume it’s wine related?

I have a Masters of Business Administration and Bachelors of Science degree from UCLA. Although my background is finance, I found my niche in marketing. I spent ten years directing the winery’s marketing efforts. When my father died, I moved into the president’s office.image002

That must have been a hard transition to make.

It hasn’t been easy. There has been a male Montgomery at the helm since the winery was founded in 1853. It’s not that the employees object to having me as their boss, it’s my own feelings of inadequacy. Now that we’re about to launch my legacy wine, I’m scared to death. What if it’s not well-received? I review the financials daily. I know what lackluster sales could mean for the company. We’ve invested four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and development. If the wine is not a success, we’ll have to sell off part of the company.

Wow. I can see why you’re scared. How do you handle your stress?

I’m forty-two, a widow, and I’ve never had children. My life is the business. I live it and breathe it. And I run. I’m currently training for a Boston Marathon qualifying race. If I can stay healthy, I should meet the 3:45 qualifying time for my age group. For me, the term “staying healthy” has two meanings. Staying healthy to run and staying healthy to live. You see, I’m a breast cancer survivor.

I didn’t know. I’m sorry to hear you had to go through that. How long ago was it? 

It’s been five years. I had a mastectomy. The disease didn’t spread to the lymph nodes so I didn’t have chemo or radiation. I got lucky. I do regular breast self-exams and have annual mammograms. Everything’s been good so far.

You mentioned that you’re a widow. You’re a beautiful woman. I’m sure you get asked out all the time. Are you dating anyone now?

My husband died two years ago. I’ve had a few dinner dates, but I don’t have time for men. And to be honest, the men I’ve met are intimidated by a wealthy, successful woman. And the wealthy, successful men want women much younger than I am.

If you met someone who wasn’t intimidated by your wealth and success would you consider a relationship?

No. Yes. Maybe. Let me just say the man would have to be extraordinary, and I’m not sure there are many men out there who would meet my criteria for a boyfriend.

Oh, you have a list. Tell us about your perfect man?

He has to love wine and horses and annual trips to Scotland. He has to be passionate about what he does, whatever that is. His balance sheet has to match mine so there’s no fear that he’s dating me for my money. His plane doesn’t have to be bigger but it would be nice if he had one. He has to be physically fit and extra points are given if he’s a runner. Looks are important, but they’re not everything. Generosity, a good heart, a wonderful sense of humor, and a circle of caring friends are “must-haves.”

It looks like you’ve got it covered. Do you think there are any men who can meet your qualifications?

Honestly, no, and I think that’s why my list is so specific. I don’t really want a man in my life right now. I have too much going on and I don’t need the distraction of a relationship. Maybe after I launch my new wine I’ll be more open to the possibility, but not right now.

Are you saying if the perfect man came along you wouldn’t pay any attention to him?

Not at all. If the perfect man came along, I’d probably fall right into his arms.

Do you think Katherine has written a man into your life?

She told me that if she did, he would be the perfect man for me.

A little sneak peek…Shhh! Don’t tell Meredith

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Website  *  Blog  *  Facebook  *  Twitter  *  LinkedIn  *  Pinterest  *  Shelfari  *  Goodreads *  Google+

Katherine Lowry Logan Logan23

Author of:

The Ruby Brooch ~ Amazon

The Last MacKlenna ~ Amazon

Website Blog Facebook Twitter Goodreads Pinterest LinkedIn Kirkus Review

That was a great insight to Meredith’s character. I really enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek, and I highly recommend it. A link to my review on Amazon is here: Review of the Last MacKlenna

If you want to see how I felt about the Ruby Brooch, which I also enjoyed, my review is here: Review of the Ruby Brooch

While these books are stand alone and can be read in either order, events in The Ruby Brooch occur before events in The Last MacKlenna. If you don’t mind a touch of the paranormal, read The Ruby Brooch first. Then you’ll snatch up The Last MacKlenna, I promise.

Happy reading!!!

Looking for more of my recommendations? You can find them all listed on my Amazon store page here.

Wild Onions Are Out of Control

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Wild Onions!

Wild Onions are like a new idea for a story – they’re green, but they pop up when you don’t need them and, like they detract from your lawn, they can pull your focus on projects you should be working on.

It’s not growing season, but the wild onions don’t care.

Generally I’m happy with our lawn. My husband and I are not garden people, and we don’t spend a lot of time working in the yard. We pay a landscaping service to cut our grass, trim the bushes, and usually lay mulch every other year. That’s the extent of our lawn time. Our flowers consist of some tiger lilies that come up each spring and early summer, and a rose bush. Other than the grass-cutting and bush trimming, we like to think the lawn runs itself.

The wild onions do not cooperate with this plan.

We’ve kept most of the broad-leaf weeds away using pre-emergent sprays each spring. The onions do not care about a pre-emergent spray. They emerge when they want and do whatever the hell they want.

Here we are in late January, and our lawn is nice and brown, which is to be expected because the grass is dormant right now. It’s also a nice, uniform height, because we cut it last in November, and nothing has grown since then. Except the onions. The onions don’t believe in a growing season. For them, every season is growing season.

Frustrated that our brown lawn is smattered with the darn onions in January, when all the other yards around us are a nice brown with no onions, last year I decided to do something about it. I went to our local home improvement store and asked them what I could use against the onions. The guy looked at me like I was crazy. “It’s not time for that. You can’t use a pre-emergent spray right now. Everything is dormant.” Sigh. Everything except the onions.

Today when I did a search for eliminating wild onions, I found this site at Clemson (where I work), which apparently means that my onions are in fact, wild garlic.

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/weeds/hgic2311.html  So reading all of this technical information about my fabulous wild onions/garlic, I learn this:  “Preemergence herbicides do not control wild onion or wild garlic [told you so] and they have to be treated with a postemergent herbicide.”

The first statement under the heading CONTROL is to pull them or dig them out with a thin trowel. But that’s gardening work!  Next option…

“Treat wild garlic and wild onion in November and again in late winter or early spring before these plants can produce the next generation of bulbs in March. However, be careful not to apply most weed killers onto centipede grass or St. Augustine grass during their spring green up period. Inspect the lawn again in the spring and the next fall, and treat if necessary. “

I knew I should be doing something now! Despite what the man at the home improvement store told me. The article lists effective weed killers: “Examples of these products are Bayer Advanced Southern Weed Killer for Lawns, Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns – for Southern Lawns, Lilly Miller Lawn Weed Killer, Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec®, and Ferti-lome Weed-Out Lawn Weed Killer. These products can be used safely on most turfgrasses, but reduced rates are recommended when applying to St. Augustine grass or centipede grass. Apply during November, very early spring, and again the next November for best control.” So I guess I’ll wander out and try to find one of these sprays. It’s either that or open a side business as a wild garlic farmer. Now that I’m thinking about it, that might be the best option.

Or perhaps there’s a different message here, one about creativity. Often we go about our daily life, with our agenda (our lawn plan), and we have expectations of what we will accomplish (nice lawn with minimal work). Work, preparing meals (usually me), reviewing the kids’ homework (hopefully performed by my husband), laundry, hopefully squeeze some editing in on Under His Protection … but then that wild onion pops up, that story idea that is so beautiful and green. Never mind that it doesn’t fit my lawn plan. Never mind that it’s a teaser, not developed, and won’t sustain a whole arc. It’s adorable! It’s so much more interesting than the novel I’m editing. IT’S GREEN!!!!

Respect the onion. Jot down a few words to preserve the new story idea (the onions), but try to stay focused on what you need to do with your current work in progress (the lawn). Otherwise, the people driving by your yard won’t see the nicely maintained dormant grass waiting for spring. All they will see is the blasted onions.

Amazon Takes Down Monster Porn

Amazon is removing some books from its virtual shelves, namely books that have been reported as offensive, including non-consent sexual acts with monsters, sexual acts with Sasquatch, and aliens.

http://www.businessinsider.com/monster-porn-amazon-crackdown-sex-fantasy-bigfoot-2013-12

The quote that I found fascinating is this, from the literary agency that represents E.L. James, who parlayed her 50-Shades trilogy into millions:

A representative from Valerie Hoskins Associates in London, the literary agency that reps E.L. James, was apparently so opposed to being included in a story about the genre that they responded to requests for comment with “We know nothing about self publishing or erotica.” (You read it here first: “Fifty Shades of Grey” has absolutely nothing to do with self-publishing or erotica.)

This, of course, continues the age-old debate that pits pornography against freedom of expression.

What do you think? Take my short poll here.

Peanut Butter Hands of Death or Why I Shouldn’t Bake

I really shouldn’t bake. That’s the short version. The long version involves my daughter, a box of Rice Krispies, way too much granulated sugar everywhere, and peanut butter melted to the consistency of, well, I bet you can guess.

But I digress.

To understand why I have trouble baking, you have to first get inside my head. First, I’m trying to eat healthier, so when I see the tremendous amount of butter and sugar in most baked goods I cringe. And I start trying to convince myself I can lighten it up.

Second, I’m not the most patient person when it comes to measuring.

Third, I’ve been known to randomly substitute ingredients, such as self-rising flour instead of plain flour.

Add all of those together, and usually when I bake I end up with a disaster. But my daughter loves to cook, and I don’t want her to think her mother is completely incapable of baking fun stuff, so I told her we would make peanut butter balls. I had already scoured the internet and found a recipe that added Rice Krispies, which I thought would add some texture and would be healthier than just peanut butter. I had all the stuff. So we commenced.

As directed, I melted together peanut butter and butter. I had planned to halve the recipe, so I took half of the desired quantities. The directions said to melt, not to soften.

I told my daughter to measure out the Rice Krispies and then to add the powdered sugar. She thought I said regular sugar, and we had a giant bowl of Rice Krispies with a LOT of granulated sugar. Fail. So we started over with more Rice Krispies and powdered sugar. Which spilled when I opened it. So not I hae a few spatters of Rice Krispies (which spilled when she opened the bag) and powdered sugar in blotches on the counter. But it was all good, right?

The recipe said to add everything together and form balls. Sound simple enough. Except maybe my peanut butter was too liquidy. For whatever reason, balls would not form. My sweet girl tried al2014-01-04 16.13.27l she could. This is what we had to work with. (These are her hands)  They would not adhere at all.

All was not lost. I posted the picture to my personal Facebook page, and there was much laughter, including a statement from my husband, to quote “Dear God. And this is why you shouldn’t bake when I’m out of town.”

We added more Rice Krispies, and they still wouldn’t form balls, so we ended up taking hunks of peanut butter and sticking the mess to them. It worked, in a fashion. After they set in the refrigerator they became fairly solid and we decided to try to add the chocolate.

Well, since we had irregular masses and not balls, dipping wasn’t really feasible. Plus, they were really weren’t solid enough to stay together if you dipped. So we used a spoon and spooned chocolate over them.  We ended up with something that looked like this:

2014-01-04 21.53.35 Not bad. Sort of like oddly misshapen turtles. They actually tasted better than they looked. The chocolate cooled fast than I expected, and made a bit of a mess, but at that point we were ready to just be done.

As long as you keep them pretty cool, they will stay together, but if they sit out for even a bit, they get melty.

Fail.

I used to be able to bake. I used to make a fabulous cheesecake. When my husband and I were dating I baked him a heart shaped cheesecake (cue… Awwwwww). But alas. That was then. This is now.  Baking cornbread is about the edge of my baking these days. My daughter and I had fun, so it was so worth it.

 

Are you an American Goddess?

Are you an American Goddess?

Today on my blog I’m featuring Gary R. Henry, author of American Goddesses. I have been twitter-friends with Gary, who tweets by @LAmerican Goddesses by Gary R. HenryiteraryGary, for several months. I read his book, American Goddesses, and was hooked. I think if you give it a chance, you will like it too. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

When two small-town women find themselves with nearly unlimited powers of mind and body, their lives get complicated. Things turn nasty as a shadowy organization attempts to use Megan and Trish for their own evil ends, and destroy them, their town and the USA in the process.

Here’s my review, 5/5 stars: When I first saw this book, I didn’t have a lot of interest for the superhero theme, but this book is so much more than “Can (insert name of superhero) save the earth from death and destruction?” What would your life be like if you gained unlimited powers? Would you still have a job, working with people who you worked with before you were indestructible? How would they feel about your bizarre powers? Would you still be married? How would your relationships change? These are all deep questions that none of the superhero movies delve into, especially where the superheros are women. Gary Henry attacks these issues and questions with gusto. I loved seeing the characters grow and become more fully human, even as they had all of these fantastic powers. Well done!

GaryGary, tell me a little bit about yourself.

I love stories – Seeing, hearing, reading, telling them. In my trail-running club, the Lawrence Trail Hawks, we’re each given a special “hawk name” when we join. You can’t name yourself. The name must be bestowed by others. They called me “Story Hawk.”

This story is different. How did you stumble across this idea?

I’ve always worshiped women. You are like water. Strong and life-sustaining.  There’s nothing sweeter when you’re thirsty. Yet water  — and women — can also grow angry and violent, and when they do – watch out. AMERICAN GODDESSESS is my love-letter to women. You’ve always seemed mysterious, magical and a little intimidating to me.

Sometimes when you create something different, it’s hard to find a classification for it. Currently, this book is listed under action and adventure, but it also has some romance. Who do you think would like this book?

I originally thought superhero fanboys would be the audience. Surprisingly, at least to me, many middle-aged women have reacted positively to AMERICAN GODDESSES. But I hope anyone who liked a good story will enjoy the tale.

I struggle sometimes when I get inside the head of my male characters. You’re facing the reverse problem, being a man writing from the POV of women characters. How do you get inside your female characters heads?

I read romances authored by women. NO STRINGS ATTACHED by  Lily Bishop is on my list, as a matter of fact. I also ask women almost exclusively to beta read for me.

Romances I’ve read – and enjoyed – include THE MERRY GO-ROUND by Donna Fasano and SUMMER WINDS by Wanda P. Smith. Also, THE GOOD DR. GRANT by Karen Einsel, TWIXT by Diane J. Reed and THE SELKIE SPELL by Sophie Moss.

I also try to pay close attention during my interactions with women, including my spouse Karen.

Are you thinking about a follow-up? How far along are you?

I’m a touch beyond halfway on the sequel ROGUE GODDESSES. For a preview, visit my book review website Honest Indie Book Reviews at http://honestindiebookreviews.wordpress.com/rogue-goddesses-preview/

Lily, I hope you will allow me to add how honored I am to be asked on to “Don’t Call Me Sugar.” I love that title.  Happy New Year, my dear friend and fellow author. Go Tigers, and see you in the Orange Bowl!

Give me the buy links so I can include them, and a link to whatever else you want to share.

AMERICAN GODDESSES at Amazon – American Goddesses

AMERICAN GODDESSES at Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/168834

Gary, thank you for stopping by, and best of luck in the new year. Now get to work on that sequel, darn it!!! Gary can be found on twitter (@LiteraryGary) and blogs over at http://honestindiebookreviews.wordpress.com/

If the book sounds good to you, check it out and tell your friends. If you don’t want to miss any of my future book recommendations, follow this blog.

 

 

 

 

Collards and Black-Eyed Peas – A Southern Tradition

It’s New Year’s Day, and since our Clemson football team isn’t playing football today, my husband is home, and that means one thing: collards and black-eyed peas simmering on the stove. We make homemade collard greens using my husband’s secret process that I’m about to reveal.

First, buy whole collards. Wash them and pinch away the thick stem that no one can eat. Your collards should have none of this in them:

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Nasty Collard Stem

Once you have only the leaves, leave them fairly large, as they will cook down very small. Put them in a very large pot and bring to a rolling boil for 4-5 minutes. Then take them off the heat, drain, and rinse them. Draining the first boil helps eliminate some of the bitterness that collards are known for.

Fill the pot with water and add a splash of olive oil, a smidgen of salt, and a smidgen of sugar. Bring it to a boil again and add the collards back. Let them boil for a few minutes, then cut them down to simmer and let them cook for 45 minutes or an hour.

Serve them with white vinegar and a splash of hot sauce. Chopped up onion is also good.

Now, why collards, you may ask? Popeye loved spinach, and the in vogue green is kale. But collard greens have a steeped tradition in the South, where they are traditionally eaten on New Years’ Day.

My family never ate collards. They ate the nasty cousin, the turnip green. But those greens are stringy, and I could never stomach them. My husband first cooked collards for me back in the early 90’s, before we were even dating, when he cooked the greens for a New Year’s Day lunch at a friend’s house. They were actually tasty.

Now, assuming we’re not traveling for a bowl game, we cook collards and black-eyed peas at home. We’ll round out the meal with rice, homemade cornbread, and ham. Traditionally, dining on such fare will bring you luck and prosperity in the new year. The peas bring you additional coin money, and the greens give you additional greenbacks. It’s true. Grandma said so.

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Collards Cooking

 

My husband and I aren’t as traditional as his dad was about it. If we’re traveling, we don’t lose a lot of sleep if we can’t find collards or black-eyed peas. However, once driving back the Gator Bowl, back before we had kids, we stopped at three or four places that served meat and vegetables looking for collards for my husband’s dad. Now he said they tore his stomach up, and he wouldn’t eat much, but he wanted to have at least a bite of collards on New Year’s Day. We finally found a soul food restaurant outside of Savannah that was open New Year’s night, ordered him collards, he ate one bite and was happy. We were tired and wanted to get home, but he was happy he found his collards.

Any New Year’s Traditions in your family? May the new year bring you peace and happiness.